A graduate of Escalon High School is serving in the U.S. Navy on board the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced “big deck” amphibious assault ship.
Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Louis Espinoza, from Escalon, is serving aboard USS America (LHA 6), homeported in San Diego. From the American Revolution through the first Gulf War, four ships have been graced with the name USS America. There is a prevalent belief that the name America, above all others, should always be represented as a U.S. Navy ship.
Espinoza is part of a crew made up of more than 1,100 Sailors whose mission is to provide support of U.S. Marine-based amphibious operations. America is optimized for aviation and capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and Joint Strike Fighter.
The ship uses a gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution system and an electric auxiliary system. This unique auxiliary propulsion system is designed for fuel efficiency making America one of the only “green” amphibious assault ships. America also provides a flexible, multi-mission platform with capabilities that span the range of military operations that include forward-deployed crisis response to forcible entry operations. With the capability of supporting nearly 1,900 embarked Marines, LHA 6 provides forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint interagency and multi-national maritime expeditionary forces. She is 844 feet long, 106 feet wide and weighs nearly 45,000 tons.
The 24-year-old Sailor said he realizes the historical value of what it means to serve on a ship named after his country.
“I think it’s an honor to be able to serve on a ship named after the United States of America,” said Espinoza. “Not many people get to serve on a ship like this. Even though we are on America abroad, we are still protecting America at home.”
Espinoza said he is not only honored to be a part of the America crew, but thankful for the chance to do something he loves.
“Every day is always something different,” said Espinoza. “It’s what I love to do. I maintain the servers and networks to make sure that everyone has connectivity. I also serve as a help desk representative assisting Sailors with their user and email accounts.”
Chief Information Systems Technician David Conway, CC division’s leading chief petty officer and Espinoza’s supervisor, explained that having a Sailor such as Espinoza is special.
“IT3 Louis Espinoza is a CC division gold nugget,” said Conway. “He has been on board for approximately a year and a half, and in that time, has qualified as a domain network administrator, a job typically held by a Sailor with many more years of experience.”
Conway said he believes that Espinoza is a special Sailor that will do many great things in the future.
“Espinoza has been able to accomplish what he has through his tireless work habits and flawless attention to detail,” he said. “He has a very amiable personality, and is well liked by all his peers. IT3 Espinoza is also very knowledgeable, and has a thirst for knowledge when it comes to his job rating. He takes pride in everything he does, and it is reflected in the quality of work he produces.”
As the commanding officer of USS America, Capt. Michael W. Baze’s goal is to recognize Sailors who are setting the resilient foundation for the nation’s newest amphibious warship.
“As the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name ‘America’, we have the opportunity to build this command with the ideals of our namesake,” said Baze. “America’s Sailors and Marines demonstrate the Navy’s core values everyday through their training and initiative, and I am proud to have a crew of this caliber.”
The America class of amphibious assault ships replaces the aging Tarawa class. Its design enables it to carry a larger and more diverse complement of aircraft, including the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey, the new Joint Strike Fighter, and a mix of cargo and assault helicopters. America will be able to support a wide spectrum of military operations and missions, including putting Marines ashore for combat operations, launching air strikes, keeping sea lanes free and open for the movement of global commerce, and delivering humanitarian aid following a disaster like the typhoon that devastated the Philippines in 2013.
On our planet, more than 70 percent of which is covered by water, being there means having the ability to act from the sea. The Navy is uniquely positioned to be there; the world’s oceans give the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, and at any time.